E-8 Joint STARS - Features
Joint STARS consists of an airborne platform--an E-8C aircraft with a multi-mode radar system--and U.S. Army mobile Ground Station Modules (GSMs).
The E-8C, a modified Boeing 707, carries a phased-array radar antenna in a 26-foot canoe-shaped radome under the forward part of the fuselage. The radar is capable of providing targeting and battle management data to all Joint STARS operators, both in the aircraft and in the ground station modules. These operators, in turn, can call on aircraft, missiles or artillery for fire support. With a reported range in excess of 155 miles, this radar can cover an estimated 386,100 square miles in a single eight-hour sortie.
Wide Area Surveillance and Moving Target Indicator (WAS/MTI) are the radar's fundamental operating modes. WAS/MTI is designed to detect, locate and identify slow-moving targets. Through advanced signal processing, Joint STARS can differentiate between wheeled and tracked vehicles. By focusing on smaller terrain areas, the radar image can be enhanced for increased resolution display. This high resolution is used to define moving targets and provide combat units with accurate information for attack planning.
Synthetic Aperture Radar/Fixed Target Indicator (SAR/FTI) produces a photographic-like image or map of selected geographic regions. SAR data maps contain precise locations of critical non-moving targets such as bridges, harbors, airports, buildings, or stopped vehicles.
The FTI display is available while operating in the SAR mode to identify and locate fixed targets within the SAR area. The SAR and FTI capability used in conjunction with MTI and MTI history display allows post-attack assessments to be made by onboard or ground operators following a weapon attack on hostile targets.
Joint STARS operates in virtually any weather, on-line, in real-time, around the clock. The augmented Army-Air Force mission crew can be deployed to a potential trouble spot within hours and provide valuable data on ground force movements.
Major advanced technological elements of the program include the software-intensive radar with several operating modes; the unique antenna with three receive ports; four high-speed processors capable of performing more than 600 million operations per second; and the associated software.
JSTARS, supported by maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Reconnaissance Force, SEVENTH Fleet, helped to fill in the tactical picture ashore for the Navy-Marine Corps team during Combined Exercise Foal Eagle `97 in Korea. For FE97, a JSTARS ground station was temporarily installed for evaluation in the Supporting Arms Coordination Center (SACC) aboard USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3). With its ability to scan an area over 20,000 square kilometers for any and all signs of movement, JSTARS gave the embarked amphibious warfare commanders a remarkably accurate tactical picture of what was happening in the exercise area. JSTARS flew several missions during Foal Eagle 97 from a safe standoff distance of up to 250 kilometers. Using the "tipper" indications provided by JSTARS, the U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft, using prototype imagery transfer capabilities, could then provide a "soda straw" close-up optical view of any desired area using its high resolution video camera. The P-3's video output was downlinked to the ship and fed into a TV system that displayed the picture at key command locations, including the SACC.
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